Students' Council: March 17, 2011
The University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union budget will be approved at the March 24 meeting of council. In preparation, vice president operations and finance Scott Hitchings went through highlights of the proposed budget.
The most significant change came in the facilities line. Because of increased income from finally having Place Riel businesses open, the budget predicts that facilities will net $256,000, up from last year’s budgeted $90,000.
“That’s still budgeted quite conservatively,” said Hitchings.
Administration costs rose significantly, from $840,000 to $1 million, since the confidential student support adviser job was moved to that department from student governance.
Due to an increase in student fees, revenue from fees should increase by nearly $60,000 to a total $948,000.
Centres will see more expenses in their new Place Riel locations, and will have to pay for janitorial services and utilities. Centre coordinators will have slightly longer official hours during the school year, but will have four rather than three months of reduced summer hours.
Louis’ projected income was based on this years’ income. Since welcome week had rather inclement weather, their total sales were down, and the predicted income from Louis’ was halved. Generally, welcome week beer gardens and football games earn up to $30,000 for the USSU.
Student governance costs dropped significantly, from $252,000 to $206,000 a year.
“A large part of that is a salary,” said Hitchings. That is, the USSU executive recently cut the VP external job, which cost students $30,000 a year. The other chunk of the governance costs was simply added to the administration line instead.
The USSU is also planning to update the washrooms in Lower Place Riel to come more in line with the rest of the building. Rather than adding those renovations to the larger project, accruing the same major project costs of Place Riel, they have added them separately to the budget.
Saskatoon Greystone MLA Rob Norris visited council to talk student issues and the state of post secondary in Saskatchewan.
He highlighted what he called the “five key priorities in education” for the province: excellence, innovation, inclusion, effectiveness and accountability. While he called the first three categories obvious, he said that effectiveness — essentially getting your money’s worth from your education — and accountability, — that is constant evaluation and refinement of services — cannot be taken for granted.
Saskatchewan’s graduate retention program, who it affects and ways to make it more attainable, was a hot topic for councillors.
Concerns included necessary out-of-province residencies and qualifications for international students.
Norris said that the province had previously been conservative in their retention efforts, but due to economic success were prepared to start being more aggressive.